• Simon Biggs

Assault on the island of Kapelsche Veer

Unit/ Formation: 47 Cdo RM Location: The Netherlands Period/ Conflict: World War II Year: 1945 Date/s: 13th January 1945

Operation Horse began on the night of 13th January 1945 under Polish command, 'Q' troop of 47 Royal Marine Commando, together with attached No. 5 Troop (Norwegian) 10 Inter Allied Commando under 2 i/c, launched an assault on the island of KAPELSCHE VEER attacking the right flank supported by armour and artillery from the mainland, while a main force of ‘A’ ‘B’ ‘X’ ‘Y’ troops of the Royal Marine Commandos attacked on the left flank.

The only possible means of approach to the enemy position was along the base of the dyke from the East or West. A Polish company was to secure the bridgehead, while 47 Commando and No. 5 Troop 10 IA Commando provided a diversionary attack.

The first phase - crossing the OUDE MAAS, was accomplished with difficulty. The heavy ice flow made it very difficult to get boats across, but eventually the Polish Engrs got the bridge fixed. On the way to the forming up position ‘A’ troop who were leading ran into a small enemy outpost which was wiped out.

By 0047 hrs both parties were in position and the code-word was given for the barrage which fired from 0055 - 0100 hrs - all the 1 Corps artillery. Attacks went in simultaneously from both flanks, and ‘Q’ troop got onto the defended plateau to the neighborhood of one house. However, the enemy were determined to hold out and brought down a withering fire.

Confident that their troops were safe underground, they brought extremely heavy mortar fire down on their own positions causing heavy casualties among the Royal Marines.

By 0530 hrs, after 8-10 hours of bitter fighting, it was obvious that the place could not be taken by a lightly armed elite force so small in a night attack, and so all were withdrawn.

47 Royal Marine Commando casualties numbered 49 including Capt. B.L. STICKINGS who was killed in the enemy position to which he had most gallantly advanced.

The place was eventually taken by 10 Cdo Inf. Bde with support from tanks and ‘wasps' and after they had sustained approx 350 casualties.

See it mapped here - RM A Geo History


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